An historic fort is being neatened up – and controversial eyesore fencing taken down – after a developer decided not to push ahead with plans to build luxury flats there.
Fort Gilkicker in Gosport site had fallen into disrepair after the collapse of the development plan to build 26 luxury beach side homes.
Now the borough council says it will help the wildlife and plants in the area to recover.
Cllr Mark Hook, the leader of Gosport Borough Council said: ‘On behalf of the developers the council will be clearing land around Fort Gilkicker from today to Friday. Levelling the soil and removing vegetation gathered by the fencing will help the natural recovery of the diverse ecosystems.’
The proposed housing development had attracted controversy with residents petitioning the council over their plans. Many locals believed the development should never have been granted planning permission.
Speaking at the time, local resident, Gerry Hayles, 73, said: ‘It’s a brilliant site – I just think that it could be something for the public instead, like an art gallery or something about its past. It would have been a shame to lose it to people living in private properties.’
A key concern for petitioners was the potential impact on the natural habitat.
Fellow resident, Linda Pegram, 65, said: ‘This used to be one of the best beauty spots in the town and it has been ruined. Everyone I have spoken to is devastated about it. The plans should never have been approved by the council - this site should be something for people here in Gosport.’
Residents were also angered by fencing put up around the fort which blocked people walking along the beach.
The council says the fencing will be taken down.
Cllr Hook said: ‘We are removing some fencing which has formed a small compound together with waste vegetation which was cut back some time ago. This will improve access in and around the site. Following advice from Hampshire County Council's ecologists it has been recommended that the work takes place now to reduce any impact on sheltering wildlife.The clearance will help tidy up the area and large pieces of masonry on the paths will also be removed.’